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New York Times, Saturday, December 24, 2016

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
926/16/20113/8/201917
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681131222
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 33 Missing: {Z} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. Scrabble average: 1.94 This is puzzle # 58 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
I constructed this puzzle two years ago. At the time, I was building a lot of themelesses with stacks of 9s, 10s, and 11s, so I went ... read more

I constructed this puzzle two years ago. At the time, I was building a lot of themelesses with stacks of 9s, 10s, and 11s, so I went with 7s and 8s in this grid to switch things up. I started in the upper right with Justin Timberlake's SEXY BACK, which I had been listening to a lot at the time. When I saw that I could stack MALWARE and EHARMONY on top of SEXY BACK and work in Y'KNOW, I knew I was rolling!

Next came the upper left, where I started with SHAWTY and HAM ON RYE (which just so happens to be an anagram of EHARMONY). I was pleased to incorporate TRY-HARD and the bizarre-looking OLE ELO in the crossings. In the lower right, I added a LOVER BOY to balance out the SHOWGIRL and BBQ SAUCE for some Scrabbly flavor. I wasn't thrilled with DC CAB but decided to cut my losses and move on to the lower left. My original lower left had YOUR FACE (clued as "Juvenile comeback"), but Will and Joel felt there was too much modern lingo in the grid, so I reworked that part.

Looking back on this puzzle two years later, I honestly have mixed feelings about it. I'm still happy with the freshness, Scrabbliness, and relative smoothness, but the fill is a bit heavy on "17-year-old-guy" entries (SHAWTY, INCUBI, and even LOVER BOY and SHOWGIRL) for my current tastes. I hope solvers take this in stride, though, and realize that my intent was to be fresh but not demeaning. I also hope everyone in the crossword community has a wonderful Christmas Eve and start to Hanukkah!

Jeff Chen notes:
What an awesome lower right corner! David makes such great use of all his limited slots, with 1.) vivid, colorful answers in JURY BOX, ... read more

What an awesome lower right corner! David makes such great use of all his limited slots, with 1.) vivid, colorful answers in JURY BOX, BBQ SAUCE, and LOVERBOY, and 2.) three rare letters finessed in. CARTE feels like a minor ding, but "a la carte" is super common. And DC CAB is outdated, but those two are minor blips in an otherwise standout corner.

A lot of terms/names I didn't know in the rest of the puzzle:

  • SEXYBACK. Tough for this pop music idiot to figure out. I guess it's catchy, in an annoying sort of way? But as a #1 hit, I'm glad to put it in my mental arsenal of crossworthy titles.
  • OLE ELO. Again, not surprising that I didn't know this, but very cool that these guys were into wordplay enough to create a palindrome ... with the common-in-crosswords OLE!
  • TRYHARD. Trying hard to believe that this is modern lingo — it sounds so silly to me. I don't remember young people ever using the term, but considering two of my hobbies are crosswords and bridge ...
  • SHAWTY. Seems to have become commonplace in music; tons of rap songs come up in Google search. Along with fresh-ish terms like "bae," I like knowing what this means now.
  • DEMON RUM. Loaded with connotations! Immediately brings up images of Prohibition, the "wets" and the "drys" fighting a battle for the very soul of America.
  • CHOLER. Apparently, this was one of the "four bodily humours" in medieval science, the one associated with a peevish temperament. I love me some alchemy, so this was fun to read about.

Overall, a solid construction. A bit too many entries out of my wheelhouse — I like learning, but too much learning in one puzzle feels like a lesson instead of entertainment — but David sure managed to pack in a lot of interesting entries, only needing a bit of EDO, AMBI crossword glue. And man, that lower right corner is a real standout.

1
S
2
H
3
A
4
L
5
E
6
M
7
A
8
L
9
W
10
A
11
R
12
E
13
S
H
A
W
T
Y
14
E
H
A
R
M
O
N
15
Y
16
P
O
M
A
D
E
17
S
E
X
Y
B
A
C
K
18
E
W
O
K
19
S
20
O
S
A
21
L
I
M
O
N
22
A
G
N
E
23
S
24
V
E
D
25
A
Y
26
E
D
O
27
K
I
R
28
E
29
D
I
S
O
N
30
C
R
E
W
31
T
R
Y
32
H
A
R
D
33
F
I
34
C
A
35
O
L
E
E
L
O
36
M
A
R
37
B
38
L
39
E
40
R
S
V
41
P
42
J
U
R
Y
B
O
X
43
E
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C
45
C
O
46
E
L
47
D
E
S
T
48
Q
V
C
49
A
H
I
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B
R
A
H
E
51
E
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D
S
E
L
53
S
O
N
54
A
R
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Y
A
R
56
D
57
C
A
R
A
58
E
L
E
V
A
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T
O
R
60
I
61
N
C
U
B
I
62
D
E
M
O
N
R
U
M
63
V
I
A
C
O
M
64
R
A
W
D
A
T
A
65
A
B
B
E
Y
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1224 ( 24,518 )
Across
1
Something fracked in fracking : SHALE
6
Worms and such : MALWARE
13
Attractive young woman, in rap slang : SHAWTY
14
Connection site? : EHARMONY
16
Fragrant dressing : POMADE
17
2006 Justin Timberlake #1 hit : SEXYBACK
18
Arboreal sci-fi creature : EWOK
19
Fifth player to hit 600 homers : SOSA
21
Fruta that's sour : LIMON
22
Saint often depicted with a lamb : AGNES
24
Celebration that coincided with Truman turning 61 : VEDAY
26
Japan's ___ Castle : EDO
27
Cassis cocktail : KIR
28
Tesla competitor : EDISON
30
Mission group : CREW
31
Slacker's opposite, in modern lingo : TRYHARD
33
Form W-2 abbr. : FICA
35
Palindromic 1976 greatest hits album : OLEELO
36
Harmless shooter : MARBLE
40
Say yes or no, say : RSVP
42
What's usually about 12 people? : JURYBOX
43
Danish shoe maker with more than 1,000 global stores : ECCO
46
Senior : ELDEST
48
HSN competitor : QVC
49
Sushi bar selection : AHI
50
Astronomer who coined the term "nova" : BRAHE
51
Bomb with wheels : EDSEL
53
Capability of whales and dolphins : SONAR
55
Navy ___ : YARD
57
Italian "dear" : CARA
58
Kind of car commonly seen in cities : ELEVATOR
60
Evil spirits : INCUBI
62
Prohibitionists' target : DEMONRUM
63
Company that owns Paramount : VIACOM
64
Stuff to mine : RAWDATA
65
Order setting : ABBEY
Down
1
Many a cabaret performer : SHOWGIRL
2
Sandwich often served with Dijon mustard : HAMONRYE
3
Not out : AWAKE
4
Firm backing? : LTD
5
Observation satellites, so to speak : EYES
6
Fixes : MESSES
7
Leading : AHEADOF
8
Starting point of many a red-eye : LAX
9
How Stephen Colbert sometimes speaks : WRYLY
10
Prefix whose last two letters are a prefix meaning the same thing : AMBI
11
Nomad : ROAMER
12
Make tough to make out : ENCODE
13
Address : SPEAKTO
15
"Like" relative : YKNOW
20
He wrote "Venus favors the bold" : OVID
23
Navy ___ : SEALS
25
Ill will : ANIMUS
29
Cattle herder : DROVER
30
City of 150,000+ between Raleigh and Durham : CARY
32
"My ___!" : HERO
34
___ d'identité : CARTE
37
Wing covering : BBQSAUCE
38
Beau : LOVERBOY
39
Say LIKE THIS! : EXCLAIM
41
Develop : PLAYOUT
42
Heckle : JEER
43
Let up : EASED
44
Ire : CHOLER
45
Date night choice : CINEMA
47
Essential principle of Hinduism : DHARMA
50
Strike while the iron is hot? : BRAND
52
Mr. T vehicle : DCCAB
54
State publicly : AVOW
56
Temperamental type : DIVA
59
Chorus syllable : TRA
61
Projecting point : NIB

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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